Question about Tascam Dp-02cf Digital 8-track Recorder

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I have a sony mini disc recorder walkman mz-n505, and it is skipping out in ten to twenty second intervals when traveling on my bike. It has never done this in the past, do you think it needs cleaned? It works fine when stationary at home.

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Unfortunately this is usually the sign of a failing read/record head unit.

MD players don't work like CD players in that the disc is not constantly spinning and the head is not constantly reading. Instead, the disc spins up and the head reads enough information into memory to play; if there is an error in reading the info the head will make multiple attempts to retrieve the data until it's complete. normally this is highly successful and is why MD players are usually regarded as the best electro-mechanical music delivery system for runners, cyclists and any other moving application.

When the head mechanism wears out the errors increase and the head has to oversample frequently to get the data. Eventually it's doing this so often that it can't also cope with the additional requirements of being in a moving environment and runs out of data, causing skipping and black outs. At the moment your player is fine when stationary but you'll soon find that it will begin to skip even under those conditions.

MD head cleaners are available, but I stopped using them years ago as they are a waste of money. MD's themselves have protective covers which prevent the disc from getting dirty, this also means that they do not transfer dirt to the heads. MD units also do not open all the way like most CD units, so there is no opportunity to accidentally touch the heads. In practice, you'll only find an MD cleaner to be of potential use if you live in a very dusty environment. In most cases if the MD head has actually got dirty enough to need cleaning then an MD cleaner simply isn't man enough for the job.

Replacement heads are rarely available these days and even when they are they're a 'mare to replace. I'd suggest looking out for a free/cheap replacement player. FreeCycle often has free examples which I've sometimes found to be boxed and unused as MD wasn't everyone's cup of tea. This is great for the likes of us as it also means that there are plenty of cheap MD units around as well and also lots of free/cheap used discs (although not all can be erased and re-recorded on).

Posted on Oct 05, 2009


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